Sunday, July 24, 2011

The 2011 'A&W Cruisin' the Dub 300'

Well, it took me five years after my first NASCAR sanctioned series race, but I finally managed to break my 'road course only' mould when the Canadian Tires Series (formerly known as CASCAR) made their one and only trek to BC last night at MotoPlex Speedway, just north of Vernon.

She's a long drive from where I live (left home at 9, checked in at the hotel around 2:30)...the things us racing fans do, right?

Anyway, I got a bit worried when I saw the 'no cameras allowed' sign at the entry to that track but apparently that doesn't apply for the race (good thing too or Kristen would probably have shot me!) as I certainly was not the only person taking photos. The track itself is a half mile tri-oval (banking goes from 11 degreees to 14 in the corners), has seating for about 9500 people but only from turn 4 to turn 2...there was no seats on the back stretch that I could see.

Qualifying for the race started around 5:30 with the race itself going at 8pm. DJ Kennington (the 2010 champ) looked the man to beat before Scott Steckly (the 2008 champ) pipped him at the end. The order gets drawn out of a hat (helmet maybe since it's motorsport) the announcers told us. From memory, Scott went around in 18.3, a few tenths off the lap record.

Lining up for qualifying (there were 21 cars in total).

Kennington looked like he'd start from the pole...

...but Steckly had something to say about that.

After qualifying, all the cars were lined up on the front stretch where they allowed people on the track for a autograph session (it went for about an hour). Then it was driver intros, with a bit of a twist. JR Fitzpatrick, who races in the Nationwide series some times, told the officials that he thought it would be fun to have the drivers walk through the gap between the main grandstand and the uncovered one before going on to the track via the opening at the flag stand on the start/finish line as that meant the drivers would meander their way through the crowd.

So that's what they did (no photos of that since it was kind of hard to see them until they were at the flag stand). The spotters based themselves in the back row of the second uncovered stand...I thought they'd be on top of the main grandstand but obviously not.

The spotters get in position to call the traffic shots.

The cars all lined up on the front straight.
The autograph session in full swing.

Looking at the race results, it seems like it was rather dull; Scott and DJ started 1-2, and that's how they finished at the end of 300 laps...but it was anything but dull. A spate of early yellows occurred before they were finally able to settle into a rhythm saw DJ looking like the man to beat. But after the first round of stops, that changed as Pete Shepherd (driving car 7) charged his way into the lead.

The race gets underway...the first double file start of many.

The first round of stops...mainly just for fuel since you can't do both.

But just as it looked we might see a bit of an upset with none of the usual suspects winning, the favourites upped the tempo. Steckly drove to the front from 11th in about 30 laps as he elected to stop the latest and had the advantage of fresh Goodyears. That saw the others leave him stranded when, yet another, yellow came out. The final 100 laps or so saw lots of squabbling over track position...but no one could challenge Steckly.

Steckly leading Kennington on the final restart of the race.

Steckly takes the win as DJ's car just wasn't good enough on a short run to challenge.

Kerry Micks and JR Fitzpatrick got into it bigtime, with Micks turning Fitzpatrick coming out of turn 4 (he later said that JR got loose and he couldn't avoid him). Well, JR wasn't that thrilled about it, and after the race they decided to duke it out until their teams, and officials, dragged them apart.

Alas, as I said in the trifecta, my camera wasn't able to keep up once the sun went down and so all the photos from about lap 160 on were quite blurry...sorry about that. I did try with the flash on, but that didn't work very well either.It was a long day for me as the race didn't finish until 10:30 due to all the cautions...but it was worth the five hour drive. I didn't even get sunburnt this time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Aussies Are Coming... 2013 anyway.

It was announced last week that the V8 Supercars have inked a five year deal to race on the new facility at Austin. At this stage, it looks like it'll be a two-race weekend, both races being 124 miles (which, in nice round Australian numbers, is 200 kilometers).

For a brief rundown on the V8's...hmm, I guess you could read the wikipedia page or check out some videos on youtube, but basically the formula is to take a sedan from GM and Ford (that may change soon...other manufacturers are sniffing about as a new style car is launched for 2013), chuck a 5.0 litre engine with 650hp in the front, make it RWD, add a rollcage and some slicks and put it on the track.

One of the most promising 'newbies', Shane 'The Giz' van Gisbergen doesn't do conservative.

I suppose they would be similar to the GT class in the Rolex series except without having to worry about those pesky Prototypes that zoom around the place at the same time. Yes, that means proper head and tail lights, wipers and doors (are you listening, NASC...oh forget it, they never do anyway) for us to enjoy.

My main worry is how you guys will take to the series. I mean, it's not like there's any shortage of motorsport currently available and the last time an Australian sport branched out over this way, it didn't pan out that brilliantly (the 1987 Rugby League experiment in Long Beach) so we'll just have to wait and see I guess.

I wonder if Marcos Ambrose will push for it to be on an off weekend for the Cup guys...